2012 is here, but are we prepared for it?

As we take our first few tentative steps into 2012 we thought we would cast our eyes forward and look at what the year has in store for UK marketers. The Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012; it is set to be an action packed year. But with so many brands competing for the limelight, how can they make sure they stand out from the crowd? Which offline and online media trends can marketers exploit in order to get ahead? As is so often the case, the answer is right before our eyes – to be prepared for 2012 we must learn from 2011.

2011 witnessed social media continue to expand its influence over the marketing industry. Many brands moved their entire digital spend to Facebook and it seems this pattern is set to continue in 2012. In particular the posting and sharing of videos online is transforming the advertising and marketing industry. Saatchi & Saatchi’s spoof of the royal wedding for T-Mobile, which featured Prince William and Kate Middleton lookalikes, was named 2011’s ad of the year among viewers in the UK. It was viewed an estimated 24,485,000 times globally after being launched in April 2011. The advert brilliantly tapped into the excitement of a nation and is a good example of successful offline and online strategies working together in harmony; a pattern we are likely to see a lot more of in 2012 with more and more adverts going viral online.

We couldn’t look back at 2011 without mentioning the phenomenal success of the John Lewis Christmas ad; ‘The Long Wait’. The advert touched the hearts of a nation and is a great example of a brand utilizing personality. In order to stand out from an increasingly busy crowd, brands need to make sure they create relationships with consumers and foster loyalty – John Lewis achieved this brilliantly. As explained by actress and screenwriter Mae West; “Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is”. A charismatic personality is crucial to a brand’s success and this isn’t going to change in 2012. With the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee fast approaching; 2012 will foster a greater sense of national pride in Britain. 2011 has already witnessed brands keen to adopt a more patriotic stance and this is all part of the personality brands will try and display to their consumers.

Another theme that looks set to dominate the marketing industry is the squeeze on price. The worldwide economic recession shows no signs of abating and 2011 saw price based promotions gather pace. Brands therefore need to make themselves budget proof, whether this is by being seen as the best in their field or by creating a strong relationship with their consumers. Brands must encourage customer loyalty to ensure when shopping budgets are cut they do not lose out to the often cheaper supermarket own brands.

Moving away from online and offline content the technology sector is also expanding and impacting on the marketing industry. The rise of the ‘second screen’ seems unstoppable. 2011 saw more and more people consuming media through smartphones and tablets rather than through more traditional platforms and this presents an interesting challenge to brands and marketers. According to Nielsen’s 2011 mobile connected devices report, 70% of tablet users and 68% of smartphone users use their device while watching TV, usually in a social sense. This research is backed up by the testimony of BBC i-player creator Anthony Rose, who claimed television ad-breaks were becoming “tweet breaks”. A number of televisions shows now invite viewers to ‘tweet’ along while watching and this trend will be boosted by the rise of internet connected smart TVs. This is a new and rapidly growing marketplace, marketers need to be proactive and create compelling content that will engage consumers. Smartphones and tablets have revolutionised how we interact with content on-the-go and mobile devices will continue to play a significant role in 2012.

Finally, with the emergence of cloud technology and the continued rise of wireless internet our lives and homes are now more connected than ever. Almost any modern device can have an internet connection and as a result video can be displayed almost anywhere. Video is becoming the preeminent communication tool of our society. Research from Cisco’s Visual Networking Index shows that by 2015, 1 million minutes of video will cross the internet every second. Therefore it seems certain 2012 will witness brands continue to adopt video content as an important communication tool online.

Clearly there is no shortage of options for marketers in the current environment. Social media, mobile, viral videos and more traditional methods mean marketers have a variety of platforms with which to engage their consumers. However with so much choice, brands need to take extra care not to rush into marketing decisions. Campaigns need to be carefully planned to ensure they are communicating with the right consumers in the right way.

Have a great year everyone!

Ian Savage


Ambushing the Olympics

I’m sure you remember some of the best ambush marketing stunts…

 In 1996 Linford Christie appeared at an Olympics Press Conference wearing Puma contacts. During the 2006 Football World Cup 1,000 Dutch fans were told to remove their Bavaria lederhosen and watch the match in their underwear. At the 2010 Football World Cup 36 Dutch female supporters were escorted out of the Holland-Denmark match for wearing Bavaria miniskirts. And most recently, at the Rugby World Cup 2011 Manu Tuilagi was sanctioned for wearing a mouth guard bearing a sponsor’s name duringEngland’s first two games.


Ambush marketing is a tactical way for brands to cash in on major events without paying the premium to be a sponsor. Cracking down on these campaigns is essential to keep sponsors happy with their official association to events. If sanctions were not strict what would be the point of investing? And without sponsors’ funds how could organisations implement these events?

 With the 2012 Olympics approaching, it was announced last week that an amendment to the Olympics Act 2006 has been set to minimise ambush marketing. The change will reverse the customary burden of proof in criminal cases, making any perpetrators guilty until proven innocent.  

 However, I wonder whether these increases in red-tape and repercussions will really stop those considering cashing in on London’s largest event? It seems unlikely.

As Simon Massey puts it “The 2012 Olympic Games is owned by us all. As a Londoner, I have paid more tax to fund the Games, as have many businesses and brands against a promise of gain to the economy. Let us all benefit, within reason”.

 LOCOG are looking to clamp down on online keyword ambush marketing too. But how will they be able to prevent ambush marketing via mobile advertising or social media? Will any mention of the Olympics on a brands Facebook fan page be seen as ambush marketing? What about all the spectators being led through the biggest shopping mall in Europe as the gateway to the Olympic village –are all of these brands expected not to associate with the Olympics?

 A blur between brands and the Olympics already exists – can you actually name the official sponsors? I was surprised to discover that Nestle isn’t, despite their “Get set go free” campaign, which uses medal-prospect Tom Daley and is being aired in the Olympic run-up.

 Although I believe that sponsors need to be protected, I’m sure that this new legislation will inadvertently cause many brands to become guilty of ambush marketing. Unknowingly combining words, such as “Summer 2012” or even “London 2012”, and violating the 2005 Act. I agree entirely with Massey’s sentiment. It is important that LOCOG keeps in mind the benefits the Olympics brings to the wider economy and so creates a balance between their sponsors’ interests and that of the public and the games, since every UK tax-payer is contributing to London 2012.

Danielle Barrett